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Entries in Joe Swanberg (4)

Monday
Feb 26 2018

Interview: Greta Gerwig on what kind of filmmaker she's going to be

by Nathaniel R

Greta Gerwig directing the prom scene in Lady Bird.Look,she's even dressed for the occasion!Thefirst time we spoke to Greta Gerwigin 2013 forFrances Hait was over the phone.Her voice was so animated it felt like an in person interview.She was learning the accordion because of that seismically magical moment in the French filmHoly Motorsand revealing to me that she didn't think being an "actor-for-hire"in other people's work would be her path.Little did I know -- though perhaps she did -- thatthe exquisiteLady Birdwas coming.In between she wrote and starred inMistress America(2015) and gave what is arguably her best performance in Mike Mills20th Century Women(2016).The rest is of course current celebration and future history:Lady Birdproved a mainstream breakthrough as a writer/director.It's up for five Oscars including two for Greta Gerwig herself亚博主页as a writerandas a director.

This time,speaking in person,that familiar voice is just as lively but her laughter even more infectious.She radiates as much joy from talking art in real life as she often has creating it onscreen as a performer.

When I ask her her how the accordion is coming,she admits she's "rusty"and that it hasn't been a movie that inspired her lately but 'certain books' though she leaves them unnamed.Whatever feeds your soul as an artist,that's where you go.

on set directing Timothée and Saoire in Lady Bird (2017)

I reminder her about that comment about acting for others not being her path and she says "I know..."in a goofily apologetic way,like she always knew where she was heading but just hadn't told us.Our interview is after the jump...

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Friday
May 02 2014

Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Linkdown

Art of the Titlehas an amazing 3-part retrospective / interview with title designer Pablo Ferro.His work includes:Bullitt,Married to the Mob,Dr Strangelove,Beetlejuice,Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdownand so many other greats
The New Yorker"whyMean Girlsis a classic"even esteemed publications got into the 10th anniversary frenzy.Good piece from Richard Brody
The DissolveJoaquin Phoenix will headline the next Woody Allen film,the one afterMagic in the Moonlight.The prolific auteur isn't slowing down his one-a-year pac.Phoenix isn't slowing down either;remember how just a few short years ago,people thought Phoenix's career was over?The joke was on us.)

VultureBilge Ebiri sticks his neck out for "Why Adam Sandler Matters"
Paper Mag5 Most Swintessential Moments from Tilda Swinton's career.Love this though none are her actual acting & filmography which is tops.
PlaybillIdina Menzel & Julie Andrews talkFrozen,WickedandThe Sound of Music Live!on "Watch What Happens Live".Julie is very magnanimous about Carrie Underwood but I love the hint of 'i'm aware you all think i'm just being diplomatic' utter vagueness of "acting is acting is acting".Ha!

I thought she was great.Listen,she made it her own.But listen: acting is acting is acting."

The Wirepontificates on Emma Stone's career now that redundant superhero movie is in theaters.Shouldn't her career be so much more by now?
Cosmopolitaninterviews Amy Schumer on 'sneaky feminism,' Parker Posey,plastic surgery and Judd Apatow'sTrainwreck
Pajibathis is how you assemble a damn cast.On Joe Swanberg's wonderful ensembles
AV Clubis fear of TV cancellations a thing of the past?Shows with low ratings are no longer automatically doomed and fan passion counts for far more than it once did.
Gothamistwonders if James Franco is doing okay.Get out of bed!

Today's Must Read
Cléowonderfully provocative piece on "Samantha"inHer(now on DVD) from Angelo Muredda:

Early on,Samantha is eager to establish herself as,if not a human,then at least something more ambitious than a machine.She proudly proclaims that what makes herheris the ability to grow through her experiences."So basically,"she says,"in every moment I'm evolving,just like you."The latter part of that statement reads as a veiled threat to Theodore,who seems rather stalled in his moody present state as a sad man who writes other people's love letters for a living despite being unable to sign his own divorce papers.It is a succinct expression of the film's male smugness: that a girlfriend who begins excited about the world and her boyfriend's witty emails is still a girlfriend who will one day leave.

Thursday
Jan 30 2014

Sundance: 'Lilting' and 'Happy Christmas'

Our last two Sundance movies!But for the roundup/index post in the morning,this is our final bit of coverage from Sundance 2014.Let's end with two movies featuring faces and topics I'm willing to bet you'll love: Ben Whishaw in a gay culture-barrier drama and Melanie Lynskey and Anna Kendrick in a dramedy about sister-in-laws.

Chang Pei Pei & Ben Whishaw in "Lilting"

LILTING
Remember Chang Pei Pei as Jade Fox inCrouching Tiger Hidden Dragon?She's just as pissed off inLilting,but with good reason.Her only son Kai (Andrew Leung) has abandoned her by way of sudden death.This is not a Spoiler Alert: We see him in flashbacks but he's dead as the story begins.She's left grieving and alone...but for unexplained visits from her son's "best friend"(Ben Whishaw) though she can't fathom why he keeps dropping in since a) she hates him though she can't exactly say why and b) she doesn't technically know that her son was gay.Props to Pei Pei's performance that those two details are so willfully and obtusely fused together.She knows.By the very nature of its plot,particularly if you've lost someone you deeply loved way too early in life,Liltingis hugely moving;I was a wet-faced wreck.But while the film gets much thematic resonance from Chang's inability to adapt or communicate in her new homeland (she never learned the language and leaned on her son heavily),I did grow frustrated with the constant withholding.Ben keeps refusing to tell her the truth,even though he has every reason and backstory desire to do so.Liltingwon the World Cinema Cinematography prize and,though its simple images have a kind of crystalline beauty,I can only assume this prize is for all the dreamy shots memorializing the peak beauty ofAndrew Leung& Ben Whishaw lolling about shirtless and snug in bed.That peaceful aesthetic beauty amplifies the furiously unfathomable irreversible loss of love.

Grade:B
Distribution: Not at this point but LGBT films usually find their way eventually.It was much easier for LGBT to get traditional distribution years ago when gay people were loyal to the arthouses.(But that hasn't been the case in some time.)

The Cast of Happy Christmas © Larry Busacca/Getty Images

HAPPY CHRISTMAS
IMPORTANT NOTE: Chicago readers can see this later today at the Music Box Theater with Joe Swanberg in attendance doing a Q&A!
Happy Christmas is an intimate highly enjoyable and tighly focused dramedy about a husband and wife (Swanberg with Melanie Lynskey) with a newish baby (Jude Swanberg - too hilarious!) who are lending their basement to the husband's sister (Anna Kendrick) after her latest breakup.Leaving the theater afterwards I wondered how much better Swanberg's films might be with a little more time for second drafts or rehearsal.He keeps cranking them out and though they're all quality (I highly recommendAll the Light in the Skyif you can find it) they don't quite crossover.But then I realized how uncharitable that was.ThoughHappy Christmasis perhaps too modest for greatness I must also quickly emphasize that it is wholly satisfying.Swanberg describes his impetus for making the movie as wanting to dramatize the process by which in-laws become siblings.That's a beautiful goal and a rare topic,too.Also rare: the opportunity to see great supporting actors like Lynskey dig into a large role and mix it up in zesty character-based comic scenes with Lena Dunham & Anna Kendrick.(Swanberg writes outlines but the actors fill in the details)

Lena Dunham & Anna Kendrick babysit Jude Swanberg in "Happy Christmas"

On a related in-house note,I wanted to give a shout out to a reader 'TB' who,in our recent post aboutAnna Kendrick and the Movie Musical,provocatively suggested the following:

that Anna Kendrick is emerging as the face of musicals is a fundamental sign that modern Hollywood doesn't understand what makes musicals work.She constantly positions herself as an actress above and outside her films,happily pointing to all of the places where it's not real.She's skittish around her own emotions.She has two feet FIRMLY planted in reality at all times.She's staunchly contemporary.It's not just that these are flaws,it's that these...directly work against what a musical needs to survive.

I thought that was an astute point even if I don't wholly agree that a very contemporary persona can't work within the movie musical,a more flexible genre than most will concede.But I am happy to report that there is a pretty great moment in a funny-touching scene inHappy Christmaswith Lynskey wherein Kendrick totally embraces and uses this very quality described FOR her characterization,both playing it out and commenting on her own skittishness.I think she's really talented.And,as it turns out,self aware.

Grade:B+
Distribution: Yes.It's Magnolia so a very limited release will happen eventually.No word yet on when.But if you're in Chicago,GO SEE IT TODAY.It's fun and sweet and the ensemble is great.

Tuesday
Sep 04 2012

V/H/S,or The Concept of a Woman

Hi,loves!Beau here,having just caught the new horror compilationV/H/SonVOD,and spent the night ruminating on a few different elements that the film(s) brought to light for me.

V/H/Sis a horror film that for me,is a game changer.And not in a good way.Were you to pull a gun to my head and ask me what genre captures my heart and my imagination more than any other,I'd say horror.It's my Achilles heel,bloody and severed.The pulse quickens and the imagination runs rampant.You're not limited to set tonal shifts but atypical ones.You can go anywhere in horror.And whatV/H/Sleft me with is the sense that if we're willing to venture into this stylized vein of storytelling,why aren't we taking more risks inside of it?Pandora's box is a large one,loves.She likes it that way.A girl needs a big purse.

I'll sum it up briefly

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